Pink Floyd Pink Floyd Pink Floyd Pink Floyd music Roger Waters Dave Gilmour Syd Barrett Nick Mason Rick Wright music Pink Floyd Pink Floyd Pink Floyd
The Music of Pink Floyd
What is this page, and what isn't it?
What is Pink Floyd?
Debates Raised by the Pink Floyd Sound
Album Reviews

What is this page, and what isn't it?
   This page is intended as an internet learning exercise for music students interested in exploring the works of Pink Floyd.  It can be a stand-alone unit on modern music, it can be part of a fine arts/music class, or it can simply be an activity for the use of any modern music/history teacher looking for an alternative method for learners.  I chose to create an exercise around this particular group because I believe that their principles in creating music transcended the usual emphasis on moneymaking.  They are one of the few rock and roll bands to truly attempt to advance the "art" of making modern music, rather than simply profit from their talent.
    The worksheet that is part of this site should help guide your learning, focusing your study on the elements that make Pink Floyd such a special musical organization.  If you intend to take the course for credit, please print out the Contract, sign it, have your parents sign it if you are a minor, and get it to Mr. Woody.  Then, proceed to the Worksheet Page and print it out, so that you will have the questions before you as you read through the other pages.  You should contact Mr. Woody either HERE or at school before starting if you intend to receive credit.  If you are using the site only for your personal information, you may still find the worksheet useful.  The Listening List will show which songs are referred to in questions on the worksheet.
    You will also find recurring names and concepts listed in the Glossary which accompanies this site.  Its purpose is to provide information for the Pink Floyd "rookie" or casual fan.  I also have a tendency to let my vocabulary run amok, so I put the glossary there to make my ideas more clear.  The symbol {CPFS} indicates that we are talking about an example of one of the peculiar characteristics of the Pink Floyd sound, and will link you to the Characteristics page, where you can get a full description, and other examples to compare with it.
    With all this available to you, it causes a great many links on each page, so try not to get too exasperated with me.  The site is intentionally low-tech, so that anyone cruising through it will not be deterred by slow page-loads or overwhelmed by extraneous graphics.  Besides, it's just my style.
   This site is not a fanzine, though my respect and admiration for the work done by these artists will certainly show through.  It is not intended to be definitive or comprehensive (that would require a book).  It is not intended to be completely objective (but then, how objective can one be about one's taste in music?).  It is also not intended to create any sort of debate between the author and any other Pink Floyd "experts", so don't be sending me a bunch of complaints if you disagree with my taste in songs or albums (though "kindred spirits" are always welcome to say "Hi").  You can e-mail me HERE.  Most of the historical data on the group comes from the fascinating book, Saucerful of Secrets: The Pink Floyd Odyssey by Nicholas Schaffner.  If you are quite interested in the band, I strongly urge you to purchase a copy, as you will find it insightful, intriguing, and informative.  If you are interested in pictures, quotations, and other information about the band, you might try what I did: go to Google, search the phrase "Pink Floyd", and I think you'll get more interesting sites than you know what to do with.  There are certainly plenty of high-tech displays of Pink Floyd info available.
    This is also not the place to order Pink Floyd albums or items.  I got all my newest CDs from Amazon, which has a wide selection (usually all in stock) at reasonable prices.
What is Pink Floyd?
   Born as the "Architectural Abdabs" (due to the field of study chosen by some of its members), the group was later known as The Pink Floyd Sound, in homage to Pink Anderson and Floyd Council, a pair of old-time Blues guitarists.  Pink Floyd may be more easily understood for what they are not, rather than what they are.  It is a group that defies categorization for the simple reason that categories require generalization, and there is nothing general (common) about the music of Pink Floyd.  Their Blues don't follow the usual blues chord or rhythm patterns; their Rock seldom falls into the driving, direct-to-the-target 4-chord structure most bands use; their Jazz is never so free-form as to lose its way in the improvisation; their Funk is cool and intelligent, without getting too beat-conscious; their Techno-sounds are never so far gone and machinelike that you wonder if there's a melody; and they can't be Pop, since you never get the peppy beat or sappy lyrics that most Pop bands dump on you.
    To my mind, there are actually Three Ages of Floyd.  In the First Age, Syd Barrett was the driving creative force, and provided an influence that the band felt throughout its career.  Syd wrote most of the songs and played lead guitar, Roger Waters played bass and tested the compositional waters from time to time, Rick Wright played the keyboards, and Nick Mason beat those drums.  Though much of their music during this Age sounds very similar to other 60's "psychedelic" rock groups, it contained numerous experimental elements that other bands dared not try.  Though you will hear many of the Floyd's effects imitated by others, you will seldom hear them done nearly so well.  Sadly, the exposure to drugs, particularly LSD, combined with the pressure to regularly produce salable tunes, eventually contributed to Syd's descent into mental instability, and the band had to alter itself to survive.  On this website, Age I is represented by the albums PIPER AT THE GATES OF DAWN and parts of SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS, as well as some from RELICS.  One good move the band made in Age I was to bring in another guitar player, first to cover for Syd, and eventually to replace him.  The addition of David Gilmour was an inspired choice that changed the dynamics and musicianship of the group in a very positive way.
    The Floyd in Age II became a much more stable organization, and the members began to grow as musicians and creators.  Age II is best seen, I think, in three parts.  Part A has the band seeking its new personality, and trying out many new sounds, searching for their true identity.  This includes the albums from SAUCERFUL OF SECRETS (most of it) through the rest of RELICS.  (It also includes an album not reviewed here, OBSCURED BY CLOUDS)  Part B, which I consider to be the very best Floyd, represents the peak of collaboration among the members, with the optimal balance between emphasis on lyrics and emphasis on music.  Each album is thoroughly listenable, and thought-provoking, and is unlike anything produced by any other group (especially the middle two albums).  This includes the albums MEDDLE, DARK SIDE OF THE MOON, WISH YOU WERE HERE, & ANIMALS.  In Part C of Age II, the lyrics gained the upper hand most of the time, as Roger started to assert his personality over those of the other group members.  Though these albums have their good points, and their staunch adherents, I find the final two albums of Age II to be somewhat inferior in that they have lost the perfect balance that made the Part B albums artistically attractive, and tilt much too far to the side of lyric dominance.  Part C includes the albums THE WALL and THE FINAL CUT.
    In Age III, Pink Floyd makes a valiant, but uneven effort to struggle along without Roger, who had left to pursue his personal creative urges.  Pink Floyd becomes now essentially Dave's band, but his poetic qualities are lacking, mainly due to a lack of experience, and the music becomes much too mainstream.  Neither the remaining members of the band, nor Roger himself, were as successful or creative as they had been in the past.  Truly, the whole Pink Floyd was much greater than the sum of its parts.  Age III includes the albums MOMENTARY LAPSE OF REASON and DIVISION BELL.
    To look back on it now, one has to wonder how a band could totally reject the Top-40 mentality of the record companies and radio stations, and yet wind up one of the most successful acts of the late '60's to mid-80's.  In fact, you must often wonder how they even managed to get their records made, since the "songs" were so unsuitable for radio play, due to their length.  It was largely due to their own knowledge of sound recording techniques that gave them an edge over other groups, who had to rely on technicians' understanding of their music to make it sound good.  Their elaborate stage show, which combined sound and pictures in an artistic way that no other group could match, caused the group to strive for a true musical "experience".  Pink Floyd learned as much as possible about sound quality and recording technology, and are as responsible as any other group for the development of multi-track recording, CD format, and improved concert sound-systems.
    WARNING  ****  Pink Floyd is a band that MUST be listened to on CD and with headphones (since you can no longer hear them live) in order to fully appreciate just how complex and layered their recordings are.  Any other listening mode will limit your ability to fully grasp their artistry.****
    This still does not fully answer your question about what Pink Floyd is, does it?  To get some more insight into it, try the page Characteristics of the Pink Floyd Sound.
Debates Raised by The Pink Floyd Sound
   There are a variety of questions that a band like Pink Floyd makes us ask ourselves about our own definition of "music" because they present us with such diverse examples of their concept.  The "public" often has a pretty limited idea of what constitutes music, which is why Pink Floyd may not be appreciated by some audiences.  I've tried to categorize some of the questions they raise on the Debates page.
The Albums
   On the pages linked to these album titles, you will find reviews of the Pink Floyd albums that I consider to be most significant.  All album and song analysis is my own, and I am entitled to the thoughts contained therein, erroneous though they may be.  Visitors to the site are welcome to form their own opinions about the group and their music, but I'm not really concerned what you think of my opinions.  I would hope that the reviews here would be most helpful to those who are interested in discovering the music of Pink Floyd, but are unsure what they are getting into.

The 14 significant albums are:

"Piper at the Gates of Dawn
"Dark Side of the Moon"
"Saucerful of Secrets"
"Wish You Were Here"
"Soundtrack to MORE"
"The Wall"
"Atom Heart Mother"
"The Final Cut"
"Momentary Lapse of Reason"
"Division Bell"
*** All information on this website was collected by the author, and all ideas and opinions are copyright to him.  Though any individual is welcome to use the content of this site (especially in an educational way), proper credit should be given to the author.***
Read An Album Review
What are the Characteristics of Pink Floyd's music?
What Debates are raised by the Pink Floyd sound?
Check out the Glossary
Read the Worksheet
See the Listening List